A consortium of Belper’s independent businesses, civic leaders and community organisations has launched a new initiative to promote town centre trade.
The Love Belper Facebook page went live on Saturday, and has already attracted 1,000 followers, and there are big plans for the project in the coming months.
The idea began with Laura Surga, 37, who owns Strut Menswear on Strutt Street.
She said: “Due to the location of the shop, we’ve struggled to get the same footfall as some other parts of the town. There’s a set area on King Street which gets most of it, but if you’re at either end of it, you don’t get many people passing. Once people find the shop I get great feedback but it’s not so easy to pull them in. On my own, it would be really difficult to tackle a problem like footfall, so I thought I’d start a Facebook group with other local businesses to work as team on marketing. I went round talking to a few people and the idea just snowballed. It’s massive now.”
She added: “We have a wealth of independent shops, the nightlife is getting better, and there are lots of fantastic coffee shops and some lovely new restaurants.
“It’s scary to see so many big businesses closing all the time on the high street, and us smaller ones don’t have the same capacity so we have to act together.”
The group will be launching a dedicated website soon to showcase the best of Belper’s independent retailers, food and drink destinations, and visitor accommodation.
Laura said: “We are also going to be launching a map to help people flow around the town, and the website will be the main hub with a directory of independent businesses and useful links.
“It’s the first time so many people have come together from so many different organisations, and everything we do will be under the same Love Belper brand.
“It’s something that’s been talked about for a long time but never happened.
“We’ve got some of the councillors on board, but it’s difficult for the councils to lead things like this now because there have been so many cuts.”
Offline, there are plans for new town centre events such as a Halloween trail this October, and closer cooperation with the organisers of the food and arts festivals to maximise their impact on the local economy.
n For more information, visit facebook.com/lovebelper, or to find out about joining the organising group go to https://goo.gl/Uoyz3U.